BOWDON, Ga. (Nov. 19, 2008) — Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of an early morning blaze Nov. 16 that essentially destroyed the Carlisle Tire & Wheel Co. tire plant in Bowdon.
The 250,000-sq.-ft. facility employed about 320 and manufactured solid tire and wheel assemblies for use in lawn and garden and agriculture equipment.
About 100 firefighters from the Carroll County and Carrollton, Ga., fire departments were called to the scene about 1:40 a.m. Nov. 16. It took them 24 hours to bring the fire under control, according to Fire Chief Gary Thomas of the Carroll County Fire Rescue, who said there was only a security guard on site at the time and he called the fire department.
One firefighter was treated for minor smoke inhalation. The billowing smoke prompted officials to evacuate 28 surrounding homes. Local schools closed the next day, in part to conserve the area's depleted water supply.
Four days later firefighters were still tending to hot spots at the site while investigating the cause of the fire. Under a federal mandate, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)'s National Response Team (NRT) was called in to help investigate because it involved a building fire that caused more than $1 million in damage, according to Chief Thomas.
The NRT said it will work alongside state and local investigators in reconstructing the scene, identifying the origin of the fire, conducting interviews and sifting through debris.
A Carlisle Tire spokeswoman said the company has not determined the status of the employees or whether it will rebuild the plant.
“Over the next few weeks we will be assessing the damage and developing a recovery plan that allows us to serve our customers, employees and community as quickly as possible,” a Carlisle Tire statement said.
This is the second fire to hit the tire plant in Bowdon. The facility was previously owned by Trintex Corp. when fire destroyed most of the plant's equipment in 1978. The owner rebuilt the facility and later sold the plant to Carlisle Companies Inc. in 2004.